Terri Chandler, RDH
Ms. Chandler is the definition of an exceptional dental professional, and her passion for helping at-risk populations has made her a pioneer in school-based dental hygiene programs in the state of Nevada. At graduation from the College of Southern Nevada Dental Hygiene Program in 1999 she received both the Leadership Award and the Community Oral Health Award. In the thirteen years since her graduation, Ms. Chandler has continued to be a compassionate leader in her dental hygiene profession.
Ms. Chandler has been a constant leader in her professional organization locally, statewide and nationally, too. In 2006, Terri was awarded the Southern Nevada Dental Hygienists’ Association’s Outstanding Dental Hygienist Award for her excellence in leadership and professionalism. As a member of the Dental Hygiene Advisory Committee for the Dental Hygiene Program at the College of Southern Nevada for the past seven years, and as its Chair for 2009-2010, Ms. Chandler has advocated for the maintenance of the highest educational standards in order to ensure the most competent and safest dental hygiene care for the public.
On the state level, she has served as Speaker of the House at four different meetings of the Nevada Dental Hygienists’ Association’s House of Delegates. Most noteworthy is her national contributions as she has served on the American Dental Hygienists’ Association’ s Committee on Annual Session and she has attended ADHA’s Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. In 2006 Ms. Chandler represented the State of Nevada by traveling to Capitol Hill as a participant in ADHA’s Lobby Day. There Ms. Chandler represented oral health advocates who desired to address the unmet oral health needs of Nevadans with the Nevada Senators in Washington to discuss possible solutions to Nevada’s and our Nation’s access to oral health care issues.
Ms. Chandler’s history as an oral health advocate began in 1998 while she participated in legislative efforts to improve the oral health of Nevadans as well. Through the Concerned Citizens for Water Fluoridation, she worked tirelessly as a participant in the successful grassroots campaign that supported water fluoridation. Legislation passed in the 1999 state legislative session made Clark County the first in the state to have a fluoridated public water supply.
Ms. Chandler’s commitment to public health dental hygiene is unparalleled. She has been deeply involved in the planning and execution of virtually every Give Kids A Smile Day, Sealant Day, screening event, or fundraising event for oral public health in Clark County since her arrival here. Her organizational skills have been instrumental in the success of many community outreach events, and she is also the first one to volunteer to directly provide care at these events as well. Her compassion for the at-risk population is obvious, and her energy and enthusiasm for planning and promoting events to treat the neediest in her community never dies.
Ms. Chandler has worked as the Nevada State Oral Health (NSHD) Coalition/Sealant Coordinator since 2004, and in that capacity has become an expert in public dental health issues. As she gained experience in facilitating communication and coordination between Nevada’s oral health coalitions, she helped identify and secure funding for, Seal Nevada, a school-based sealant program that utilized public health endorsed dental hygienists to deliver care to at-risk patients in public schools using mobile dental equipment. Her duties as the state’s coalition coordinator were wide ranging and complex, and helped sustain a diverse framework of public oral health programs, and supported the development of new programs to provide dental care to our state’s neediest residents.
Most recently, she dedicated all of her efforts to the creation of Future Smiles, a non-profit school based oral health program that addresses the unmet health needs of K-12 students. She serves as the Founder/Executive Director of Future Smiles, which partners with the Clark County School District. Since inception in 2009, Future Smiles has provided preventive oral health services to more than 3,000 at-risk children in school setting.
Without the vision of Ms. Chandler the at-risk children being served by Future Smiles would, more than likely, not have the necessary health intervention to prevent or end pain, poor nutrition as a result of dental disease, peer taunting due to ugly mouths caused by tooth decay, and most importantly, the drain that oral disease imparts on academic performance in at-risk children. Historically, these children show an inability to learn and lack initiative to contribute to their education.
These oral health needs are addressed due to an innovative approach that provides school-based oral health care coinciding with the support and professionalism of her team members composed of highly qualified public health dental hygienists. In the absence of Ms. Chandler’s efforts to spearhead Future Smiles, thousands of Southern Nevada children would not have the benefit of professional dental care; nor the life lessons that oral health education can instill in an at-risk population fostering health, well-being and successful adulthood.
A healthy child can be a happy child. A happy child can be a successful child. A successful child can become a contributor to the community. This circular logic is what Ms. Chandler and her organization, Future Smiles, is embracing. The roots of this movement have been planted. Ms. Chandler should be recognized for her courage, fortitude, outstanding contributions and determination to position good oral health for all children as criteria for Nevada.